For the last ten years we have been faxing (manually) our occasional offerings to our current and some prospective clients. In our slow season we have our staff call through the list to clean it up. We ask people if they enjoy getting our faxes and if we should continue. Our clients rarely (if ever) go to our web site - there is absolutely no reason to do so - we are a service business and we work face-to-face.
.....however they do use email.
What is the best way to convert our fax list to an emailing? Is it absolutely necessary for them to digitally opt in? Should we call them and get their permission? Ideally for me would be to create something professional, send out the campaign, and put a big button on it that says "click here if you would like to continue receiving this"
you do need explicit permission from each subscriber, but it doesn't need to be digital.
Calling them would be a good way to get confirmation.
Please see our anti-spam policy for details on what is OK and what isn't.
send out postcards with a return to sender option, get tehm to fill in emails with opt in message and a prize or bonus of some sort for those that do return.
then pay someone to do the data entry :)
Since you're already sending fax mailings, why don't use that medium to convert your list to email subscribers? Just send along a response form and/or refer to a special webpage on your site (eg www.yoursite.com/newsletter). And Kenwen is absolutely right about the incentive: make it worth their while, reward opt-ins with something.
By the way: you might want to reconsider the role and importance of your website. When you start sending email newsletters, you'll start making landing pages too ;-)
Brilliant tips, guys!
The only thing I'd be careful with, is additional incentives to get people to sign up.
Any time the newsletter itself is not the main reason people sign up for it, you run the risk of getting a lot of spam complaints. So you'd want to be very careful with the execution of something like that.